Thursday, October 28, 2010

Evolution of a Scene

Tyrande and Greymane having a powwow at the Howling Oak in Darnassus

I had an interesting sight into little details of the game in development today.

Last night, I had been playing around in the Beta and I had taken my character to Darnassus and the new "Worgen Tree" the druids made for the Gilnean people. Genn Greymane is there now (I'll have to go doublecheck if he is also still visiting Varian Wrynn as he was before).

I was just about to log out when Tyrande Whisperwind walked up. Tyrande doesn't get out very much, so I thought this might be interesting.  What followed was one of those little color scenes Blizzard puts in certain places.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's the Little Things... (part 3)

In beta, there are now Griffon riding guards flying over Stormwind. I'm sure this is related to the widespread concerns about Horde in our airspace. Unfortunately, these guards didn't do anything when a troll druid flew by.  Maybe it's a work in progress still. They have made a lot more invites to beta, so every time I go in recently, there is some loser with nothing better to do than try to menace people from the air in Stormwind. I am so going to lose it if that is happening on Dec. 7.

A very irritating bug has made it into live servers with patch 4.0.1.  NPC names cannot be completely turned off. There is a setting for this in your interface panel, but quest-related NPCs still have neon red names floating over their heads. This especially bugs me because the only names I usually turn on are Horde Player names so that I can see them turn red and become a danger to me if that's what they are going to do. Now, I go a-questing and I'm surrounded by red names that leave me highly at unease. One might get used to this. But the control is there, Blizzard just needs to fix it.

State of the Game: October 26

Schei├če! It's a mess, isn't it?!

I finally got my Internet connection restored last Saturday night.  It's a bad week for me, work-wise right now. I don't have as much time to play as I would like, so my exploration is a bit limited. But a lot of what is going on is expected, and a lot of it isn't.

I don't need to recount a list of problems with the game right now. There are many, of course. There are still tons of broken add-ons too. And there are a lot of characters I'm not sure how to play right now.

A couple of things though sorta surprise me:

What I Wanted to Know from the Lore Panel

Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen try to not answer too many questions at the lore panel
Watching the lore panel this weekend, I sensed that there is a fine line Blizzard walks every time they do one of those things. There are relatively few questions one could ask that Metzen and Afrisabi would be willing to answer.

Spoiler Questions - Most of the unknown story is stuff we will see in the near future and they are not going to give that away.

Questions about favorite characters, like "Are you going to bring Illidan back?" The devs look at each other, cause they know the answer in Warcraft is that anybody could come back, but that one is not really under consideration.

Completely random questions that nobody ever thought about, like, "What clan does Saurfang belong to?" I think it's an interesting question, but as Metzen put it in that case: "Blackrock. As of ten seconds ago, it's Blackrock."

So, let's imagine that I up and flew my butt down to Anaheim and forced all the others out of the way so that I could ask the Lore Questions. This is what I would have asked:

"I'm a Libra. I like long walks on the beach, drinking gin, and nerfing paladins."

They do have a really good sign for Blizzcon, at least

Greg Street, aka Ghostcrawler had all the best lines from Blizzcon this past weekend. Another good one was, "How about that alchemy mount? I'm sure everybody wants to mount their friends."

Not the best line, but the most important perhaps:

"We're in an unusual position in that it's about a month before shipping and you guys know just about everything we know about the game."

Which is a neat summation of why Blizzcon this weekend was a bit...less exciting than the others I have watched.

Really, there is no news left. I have a theory that they were saving the cinematic for the opening ceremonies, but then a leak was detected and Blizz pulled the trigger on Monday rather than let it get away from them.

But yeah, it was a pretty low-information convention, I think. I have yet to go back and check out the Diablo and Starcraft panels, but I don't think they got anything new either.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Doh! Modem on Fire!

Well, it didn't burn, but it may as well have.

Tuesday night, I was downloading the 4.0.1 patch, and actually writing another blog piece when all of my Internet-related applications started coughing and sputtering and dropping their connections.  The modem died.

Unfortunately, as I may have noted before (I honestly can't remember), I am a foreigner living in an East Asian country, so engaging Internet providers in matters of customer service is about twice as hard as it should be. Either I have to fight with foreign vocabulary that I'm not sure about, or I have to persuade somebody I know to talk on the phone with me.

And, of course, the company has totally mastered the art of bureaucratic screwing with you. I mustered my resources to make another follow up call Friday evening, and was basically told, "OK, great! Now, you need to call this different number. And oh, by the way, this number is only available Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Haha, you are so screwed."

Yeah, it's like that. It's probably a good thing that I have never learned to curse in the local language.

So, I am just crushed that, presently, I have not been able to try patch 4.0.1. Nor do I have any ETA for when my home internet service will be restored.  I hear the patch is scaring the crap out of everybody in general, with bugs and all. But, with no home service, I can't even really read about it. Only so long I can stare at my iPhone using the mini-Safari.

Sigh, so. I'm hoping that this will get fixed sooner than later, but I'm trying to temper any sense of optimism since the ISP seems bent of crushing every sliver of it.  At this point, I hope that I have my gear replaced in time to catch the Blizzcon feed next weekend.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

'Everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong'

It's Murphy's Law: the ultimate expression of the perversity of nature and human endeavor. First used by shipping agents in 1877, and finally named from one of a few possible Murphys in the United States Air Force, It has hundreds of corollaries from "It only rains on my day off," to "The milk's expiration date will always be the day before you check it."

Needless to say, Murphy's Law extends to raiding in World of Warcraft as well! I consider these truths to be self-evident:
  • Whatever loot drops from a boss will be exactly perfect for the alt you didn't bring to the raid.
  • That loot will always get sharded.
  • Whenever you /roll a 100 for a piece of loot, the item will be uncontested.
  • Furthermore, you will never /roll 100 on a piece of loot that is a fantastic upgrade for you.
     
  • You will always be targeted by the boss with a CC effect or a debuff requiring your action to manage just as soon as you pop your trinkets and major cool downs.
     

A Word about The Blog

Heyas!

I just wanted to take a brief moment and say how things are going here:

I have slowed down writing just a little bit in the past two weeks for a couple of reasons. One: I'm just a wee little bit close to game burnout and trying to just relax a bit until Cataclysm comes out. And Two: I keep having small problems with my posts.

Recently, a lot of stupid formatting things happen. Like, all my new paragraphs disappear. Or, adding captions to a picture throws everything off into chaos.

But, as a result, I have a number of mostly-written pieces that are not published because the formatting has gotten so hopelessy scrambled.  Also, blogging just becomes less fun in general when you sit down to do it and then get bogged down in technical details. But, I'll keep plugging at that stuff and one of these days, I'll either figure it out or apply myself to finding better workarounds.

The other thing on my mind today is readers: I get to see the readership and, I mean, it's not huge, but it's not non-existent either. Which makes me very happy. I wasn't planning on becoming the Hawt Blawg of WoW or anything (yet. When that becomes my main goal, I'll rename this site "The Hawt Blawg of WoW" so you'll know)

But I just wanted to urge folks to write comments if they like. I would LOVE to engage in discussion here with folks who enjoy playing WoW.  Few things would make me happier.

The other aspect to me calling for comments is that some of my in-game friends read the blog, and then they want to debate me about stuff in-game. And like, y'know, if I'm in-game, I'm probably busy playing the game. It's always a hoot when somebody whispers up to say "Hey! Cool article!" but I can't talk about release dates or debate Telluric Currents at the same time I'm working on the Lich King.

So. That's all I wanted to say. Take care and see ya next time.

Shaman Heals: T-minus Two Months and Counting


Well, we are getting really close now. A date has been announced and even more jarringly, Patch 4.0 is probably just around the corner ("around the corner" = "next week") How is Shaman Healing coming along?

Overall
Healing feels sluggish. Heals are smaller than on live, and they have overall longer cast times. Characters also have much larger health pools than they did before, so it's fairly common to drop around a 15k heal on someone and it barely seems to make their health bar move. The fact that most of my recent experience has been in ICC with a 30% buff probably makes all this feel worse than it really is.

Focused Insight
Sigh. There's no avoiding this talent. A 30% buff to a heal is just too large to ignore. But I don't think it is going to be featured in standard rotation. The logistics of it are just too unwieldy. Shamans also have no lack of spells we can cast that have buff effects on the next spell. Unleashed Elements buffs 20%. Tidal Waves leaves behind haste buffs. Riptide creates all sorts of bonus goodness when used next to a chain heal. So, keeping all these short-CD, augmentation effects in constant play is probably going to be an overwhelming juggling experience.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

/Snap

Hey! Look who I ran into in Orgrimmar!

Gravy has become a bartender in Orgrimmar's Valley of Honor, which is altogether fairly reasonable.

I did leave a beta note for the developers:

"This vendor should be out where the Alliance can meet him too, and one of the items he sells should be tacos. I'm sure everybody wants to /s It is Taco Time!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

4.0.1 To-Do List: You Are Not Prepared!

Unless something mighty funky happens, one week from now, WoW Patch 4.0.1 will be upon us. This includes all the changes to just about everything in the World of Warcraft that doesn't include new content.

Here is a short list of some of the things changing:
  • New launcher
  • New gem stats
  • New glyphs
  • New stats
  • New abilities
  • New 31-point talent trees
  • New gear
  • Reforging
Pretty much everything you know about your character now is changing.
But, there's a week left. Time enough to get prepared. To that end, here is my to-do list:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jesus Christ was a Shaman!

The biggest thing we have in common: We both have the power to blow yo' mind!
Please don't get offended at me for the comparison. There is no disrespect intended towards anyone or anyone's beliefs. I just get a smile on my face when I think about stuff like this. What would George Bush be if he were in WoW? A ret paladin if you ask me (and probably a Belf, too). Barack Obama? A warrior tank. How about Julia Roberts? I think she'd roll a Night Elf Hunter--a little exotic, but still just a hunter. 

But what about the big man, JC himself? 

A shaman. Totally. Just like me and William Shatner.

Let's do the list!

  • Cure Disease?               Check
  • Drive out evil spirits?   Check
  • Walk on water?             Check*
  • A spiritual leader of the people?         Check
  • Cause people to rise from the dead?   Check
  • Cause oneself to rise from the dead?  You know it, baby!

*Levitate is not the same thing, so priests can go levitate off a cliff if they want to raise that point. Death knights, don't even get started that Path of Frost makes you Christ-like.